Workshop Perspectives on First-Person Thought

May 16 – 18, 2019

Is there anything special about the way we think and talk about ourselves, and in particular about our own inner world? It is sometimes said that thoughts about our own conscious states involve a kind of awareness that is fundamentally different from the one that comes with other thoughts. It is also often held that we cannot misrepresent the subject of our current experiences, and that this phenomenon must be explained by an adequate theory of first-person thought. Yet it is difficult to discern what exactly these claims entail.

Moreover, there is no uncontroversial way to relate phenomena of first-person thought to phenomena of first-person speech. When we utter self-ascriptions of mental states, do we thereby simply report in which state we are, or do we rather directly express the respective state? The latter may have severe consequences for our understanding of the unique kind of knowledge that we allegedly have of our own sensations, feelings, thoughts, and desires.

Our aim in this workshop was to bring together researchers – including philosophers, linguists, and psychologists – who address and discuss these and other problems relating to first-person thought and the way it is articulated in speech.

The workshop was the concluding event of the project The First Person and the inaugural workshop of the project Mind the Meaning.

Workshop program (PDF)